Connections: Linking Talented Educators
Connections: Linking Talented Educators

Ms. Lunsford's Milken Award Energized Our School

December 21, 2017

Jesse Roy Tami Lunsford and class 1000w

We present Milken Educator Awards to our recipients at schoolwide assemblies because we want students to see their teachers being honored—but we don’t often have the opportunity to hear about an Award assembly from the student’s perspective. Jesse Roy, a 10th-grader at Newark Charter High School (NCS) in Newark, Delaware, was in the gym the day we surprised Tami Lunsford (DE ’17), his biology teacher. Here’s his account of Tami’s big day.

The moment I walked into my first class on the day of the assembly, everyone was chattering excitedly about something. I figured it was going to be a sport or club pep rally, but one of my teachers let on that “someone special is coming in.” Then I really got curious. Elena Delle Donne, a WNBA pro basketball player, had once visited the middle school, so I thought it might be someone like that.

My friends and I listened to all the dignitaries who spoke at the assembly. Then Mr. [Mike] Milken was introduced, and he started talking about the significant role educators have in the world. That gave us a clue as to where the assembly was heading. We were really energized by the fact that one of our teachers would be memorialized in a museum in Washington, D.C. [opening in 2020], and I remember feeling a sense of pride that my school’s teachers were being recognized in such a meaningful way. When Mr. Milken introduced the Milken Educator Award, I immediately started to narrow down possible teachers in my head. I knew Ms. Lunsford would be a contender because of all her extraordinary work in and out of her classes, but there were a number of other teachers who crossed my mind too.

Tami Lunsford Jesse Roy quote 1000w

When they announced Ms. Lunsford’s name, I don’t think anyone was surprised. As a current student in Ms. Lunsford’s Honors Biology class, I’m always inspired by the passion she brings to teaching. She clearly loves both teaching and her students, and every day she tries to make us think creatively. She is dedicated to extracurricular activities like the Marine Science Club and Feminist Club; her passions give us students great opportunities to expand our horizons. When she accepted the Award, I was struck by her humility: She stressed that there are so many other teachers at NCS who dedicate their lives to cultivating students’ interests. I had her class right after the assembly, so we were all really excited. She thanked us and reiterated her gratitude.

Watching Ms. Lunsford get the Milken Educator Award has definitely made me think about becoming a teacher. She truly takes joy in her job. I’m not sure yet what I want to study in college, but Ms. Lunsford’s happiness in the classroom lets me know that the most important thing in choosing a career is knowing you are passionate about the work.

I agree with Mr. Milken that teachers don’t get recognized often enough, and this Award definitely lets teachers know that they are appreciated. Also, because NCS is relatively new, the Award is even more invigorating for both faculty and students.  


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